The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a new quality standard on increasing the uptake of flu vaccinations among people who are eligible.

The quality standard discusses the following priority areas for improvement:

  1. To use a range or combination of methods, such as phone, face-to-face, or social media communications, to invite people in eligible groups for flu vaccination. Commissioners are encouraged to review their services to make sure systems are in place to accommodate these different methods.
  2. To include information within invitations to vaccination appointments about people’s individual situation or clinical risk. This will help eligible people understand the benefits of having a flu vaccine and why getting flu could be particularly risky for them.
  3. To ensure health records are timely, accurate and consistent in order to improve the accuracy of uptake figures and reduce unnecessary invitations to those who have already had flu vaccinations.
  4. To ensure employers enable health and social care staff who are in direct contact with vulnerable people to have flu vaccinations, including allowing flexibility during shifts.

Parents of 2 and 3-year olds are urged to protect their children against flu, which can be a serious and fatal illness.

Those aged 65 and over, children and adults with underlying medical conditions and pregnant women are also urged to get their free vaccine in the next few weeks, before flu begins to circulate widely.

The primary schools-based flu vaccination programme is once again underway. This follows a temporary pause in the ordering of the nasal vaccine, which was caused by delays from the manufacturer.

Primary school clinics will be rescheduled as soon as possible and children in high risk groups should visit their GP if their school session has been delayed, to ensure that they are protected early. GPs have now been advised to call in all eligible children for vaccination by early December.

Read more here

In addition, England’s chief nursing officer has issued a new appeal to NHS staff urging them to fulfil their “duty” to get vaccinated against influenza this winter. Dr Ruth May has written an open letter to frontline nurses and other health professionals working in the health system to urge them to work together to achieve a high level of coverage this season.

Also read our guest blog from the National Infection Service, Public Health England: Help us help you this winter by getting your flu vaccination

From September 2019, boys in school year 8 will be offered the free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the first time.

Worldwide, about 5% of all cancers are linked to the HPV virus. This includes cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck – all of which the vaccine helps to protect against. Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women each year. HPV is thought to be responsible for over 99% of cervical cancers, as well as 90% of anal, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60% of penile cancers.

Modelling produced by the University of Warwick estimates that by 2058 in the UK the HPV vaccine currently being used may have prevented up to 64,138 HPV-related cervical cancers and 49,649 other HPV-related cancers.  This would be 50 years after the introduction of the HPV vaccination programme, when people who were vaccinated as teenagers have reached the age groups that they would typically be affected by HPV-related cancers.

Girls have been offered the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine free from the NHS since 2008. So far, ten million doses of HPV vaccine have been given to young women in this country meaning over 80% of women aged 15-24 have received the vaccine. Since the introduction of HPV vaccination, infections of some types of HPV (HPV 16/18) in 16-21 year old women have reduced by 86% in England. A Scottish study also showed that the vaccine has reduced pre-cancerous cervical disease in women by up to 71%. Similarly, diagnoses of genital warts have declined by 90% in 15-17 year old girls and 70% in 15-17 year old boys due to the HPV vaccine.

Parents of girls and boys aged 12 and 13 should look out for information from their children’s school about the vaccine and timings for the jab. If they miss out on the vaccination for any reason they should talk to their school nurse/immunisation team about getting the vaccine at a later date.

More information about HPV vaccination for parents and their children is available here (see HPV).

Public Health England (PHE) is calling for all parents to get their children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) when the vaccine is offered, or for them to take it up now if they didn’t have it at the scheduled time.

In the first quarter of 2019, there were 231 confirmed cases of measles. This figure is slightly lower compared to the same quarter last year. As measles is highly infectious, anyone who has not received two doses of MMR vaccine is at risk, particularly unvaccinated people travelling to countries where there are currently large outbreaks of measles. The recent measles cases are mainly occurring in under-vaccinated communities, particularly those with links to other countries with ongoing measles outbreaks. There has also been some spread into the wider population, such as those who may have missed out on the MMR vaccine when they were younger.

In the final quarter of 2018 94.9% of eligible children aged five received the first dose of MMR. To achieve herd immunity for measles at least 90-95% of the population need to be fully protected. One dose of the MMR vaccine is about 90-95% effective at preventing measles. After a second dose the level of protection is around 99%. Coverage of the second dose is at 87.4% for children aged five. PHE is therefore urging those who have only had one dose to ensure they are fully vaccinated with two doses.

This quarter, 795 cases of mumps have also been confirmed. No new cases of rubella were reported.

The MMR vaccine is given on the NHS as a single injection to babies as part of their routine vaccination schedule, usually within a month of their first birthday. A second injection of the vaccine is given just before starting school, usually at 3 years and 4 months. The vaccine is also available to all adults and children who are not up to date with their two doses. Anyone who is not sure if they are fully vaccinated should check with their GP and those planning to travel to Europe should check NaTHNaC travel health advice.

Provides information on the flu vaccination programme 2017 to 2018 for children, the vaccine and how to administer it.

This document on the flu vaccination and vaccination programme includes information on:

  • what flu is
  • the flu vaccine
  • dosage
  • administering the vaccine
  • advice on vaccinating children with an egg allergy
  • further resources

In the 2017/18 flu season, flu vaccine should be offered to all children who are aged two to eight years old (but not nine years or older) on 31 August 2017 and to all primary school-aged children in former primary school pilot areas. It should also be offered to children from six months of age in clinical risk groups.

The key changes to the childhood flu programme in the 2017/18 flu season are that:

  • Reception Year (children aged 4-5 years) will now be offered flu vaccination in their reception class, rather than through general practice
  • Children in School Year 4 (children aged 8-9 years) will be included in the programme this year as part of the phased roll-out of the children’s programme

From Public Health England – Documents for parents and carers explaining the use of the unlicensed BCG vaccine.

Since late 2015, there has been a global shortage of the BCG vaccine. To protect those at risk Public Health England has secured a limited supply of BCG vaccine for babies who are eligible.

These documents explain why a brand of BGC vaccine without a UK licence is being used and why it is still recommended.

 

The iHV is one of a group of healthcare professionals to sign a letter, issued to all media, including parenting magazines and websites, stressing the safety of vaccinations and the importance of getting children vaccinated.

Statement from UK healthcare professionals on the importance of childhood vaccination

Statement from UK healthcare professionals on the importance of childhood vaccination

“As healthcare professionals, we want to send a strong message to parents. Having your child vaccinated is the only effective way of protecting them against many serious and potentially fatal diseases. Routine vaccinations are safe and thoroughly tested long before they are made available to the public. Vaccines strengthen our own immune defences against disease.

“Illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella are serious and can lead to severe life-long
complications and sometimes death, in children and adults. These diseases can be prevented with vaccines. Although most of us have never seen them in our lifetime, they  will return if children are not vaccinated. This would be a tragedy that can and must be prevented.

“Vaccinations are safe, effective, and crucial to safeguarding child health.”

Professor Neena Modi, President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Dr Cheryll Adams, CBE, Executive Director, Institute of Health Visiting
Professor Simon Capewell, Vice-President for Policy, Faculty of Public Health
Nicola Close, Chief Executive, Association of Directors of Public Health
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary, Royal College of Nursing
Professor Lesley Regan, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of Council, Royal College of General Practitioners
Cathy Warwick, CBE, Chief Executive, Royal College of Midwives

Public Health England (PHE) reminds that the infant dose of MenC that is normally given at three months of age has now been removed from the childhood immunisation schedule (from 1 July 2016). All children will continue to be offered a combined Hib/MenC vaccine when they reach one year of age. This, along with the adolescent MenACWY vaccination, will help to provide protection across all age groups including infants and children.

There are almost no cases of MenC disease in infants or young children in the UK. Most cases are seen in over 25s with a history of travel outside of the UK or coming to the UK from abroad. The Joint Committee on Immunisation and Vaccination (JCVI) advised that the removal of the infant MenC dose, alongside the introduction of the MenB vaccine (Bexsero®) into the routine immunisation programme, would not have any significant risk associated with it, providing that community protection could be sustained by the MenACWY programme that was introduced for teenagers in September 2015. The MenB vaccination for infants, introduced in September 2015, may also help prevent some MenC cases.

Please also remain aware that not all meningococcal disease cases are vaccine preventable, and cases can still occur in vaccinated infants and children. There are also other rare types of the disease for which there is no vaccine currently in use. It therefore remains important for public health practitioners to urge parents to be alert to the symptoms and seek urgent medical attention if ever there is concern. This is particularly important as the new meningococcal vaccination programmes become fully established.

Please assure parents that effective control of this disease within our communities will remain. To help with this, a leaflet for parents  is available to order from the DH Orderline please use product code 2904568 and also available to download below.  Action is being  taken to update PHE and NHS literature and this will gradually be reflected in documents that are already in circulation.

Further information can be found in the April edition of Vaccine Update and in the official guidance for professionals